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Digital Government Units: Origins, Orthodoxy and Critical Considerations for Public Management Theory and Practice

54 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017  

Amanda Clarke

School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University

Date Written: July 12, 2017

Abstract

From 2011 onwards, Digital Government Units (DGUs) have quickly emerged as a preferred solution for tackling the over-cost and under-performing digital services and lagging digital transformation agendas plaguing today’s governments. DGUs represent a common machinery of government phenomenon insofar as they all exist at the centre of the state, and adopt a shared orthodoxy, favouring agile, user-centric design, open-source technologies, pluralistic procurement, data-driven decision-making, horizontal ‘platform’ based solutions and a ‘delivery-first’ ethos. However, DGUs are differentiated in practice by their governance structures, resources and powers, adding notable complexity to this recent public management trend. Acknowledging the speedy policy transfer that has seen DGUs spread globally despite a lack of critical appraisal of their value and shortcomings, the paper highlights four critical considerations that governments and their observers should account for when assessing DGUs as a potential instrument of digital era public management renewal.

Keywords: Digital Government, Government as a Platform, e-government, Government Digital Service, Public Management Reform

JEL Classification: M15, L33, L38, H83

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Amanda, Digital Government Units: Origins, Orthodoxy and Critical Considerations for Public Management Theory and Practice (July 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3001188

Amanda Clarke (Contact Author)

School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

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